Since January I have been attempting to read the gospel of John in way that will make it stick. My plan was to read the same chapter every day in different versions of the Bible for at least seven days and to write down any insights that came to me in a journal. This week I started John 18, so I am staying on track, but there are days that get skipped. Why is that? Some days I blame the computer. Yesterday, my quiet time got pushed to 9:00 at night. I could not blame the computer because it was not turned on all day. The problem is not out there. It's in here--a distracted heart.
Earlier this month while I was reading John 16: 29-30 (NIV), I was struck by something related. Here is says a couple of hours before Jesus will be arrested:
Then Jesus' disciples said, "Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God."
Jesus is pleased that they "believe at last!", but he warns them that when he is arrested they will all run away. Why does their epiphany not seem to help them when things get tough for their Master? A few answers I came up with include:
- They do not yet have the Holy Spirit, who will be poured out only after Jesus' resurrection and return to heaven. Without the Holy Spirit they do not have the boldness that will later characterize them as they testify to the Lord and willingly face a martyr's death.
- Their epiphany is just intellectual at this point. People say, "Ideas have legs." However, this is newly found knowledge that is still in the tadpole stage. It will takes some time for their belief to translate into action.
- It is through deliberate disciplines of our faith that enables us to translate what we know and believe into actions that set the course of our lives. These disciplines have not been enacted in their lives as yet.
- Although Jesus had been predicting his death, the disciples did not seem to grasp what that would entail for themselves. Possibly, they allowed their minds to deny such an unpleasant future. Thus, when the arrest came, it shocked them and fear took over.
Then I reflected that the same question can be asked of anyone who says, "I believe in Jesus." If we really believe this, why do hold onto selfish ways? If we know the benefits of reading the Bible and spending time talking to God in prayer, why do we leave it until last thing on our list or skip it entirely? When I look at the list above that helps explain the disciples' lack of integrity at the moment of Jesus' arrest, I know for myself that the biggest factor is lack of discipline. Every morning, I need to be deliberate about how I will live for the Lord and be rooted in His plans for me. That kind of surrender will have legs. Yes, I'll still trip and slip at times, but when I kneel to ask for forgiveness and get back up, I will be further along in living with integrity and faithfulness to the One who gave his life for me.